Hart's War

*

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

A courtroom drama, To Kill A Mockingbird and a PoW escape flick make an odd combination. To be frank, it's more awful than odd.

The camp is like none you have ever seen before. Neither John Mills, nor Ian Carmichael, are at roll call. Not a single joke is cracked. Ciggies are plentiful and the Commandant went to Yale - "You've read Mark Twain?" he asks a prisoner. "It's wonderful." Really?

No one walks about with sand in their trousers and the PoW commander is a third-generation West Pointer (Bruce Willis), who should be shot for boring the pants off the audience.

Lt Thomas Hart (Colin Farrell) is the son of a senator. He's never fired a gun in anger, because daddy made sure he had an admin job, miles from the front line. While driving another officer through snow-covered woods, his Jeep is ambushed and he ends up behind the wire.

Instead of evolving into a remake of Stalag 17, the movie forgets where it is and starts worrying about political correctness. Two black airforce officers arrive with a new batch of prisoners. They are taunted by white extremists before one of them is executed for something he didn't do and the other framed for the killing of a racist bigot.

The Germans allow a full scale court-martial to take place, in which Hart, who was a law student, defends the black airman. Suddenly, it's Anatomy Of A Murder in the rec hall, with guards and prisoners sitting sedately on folding chairs, witnessing proceedings. If it wasn't so sentimental, it would be hilarious and if it wasn't so dull, it would be an insult to intelligence.

The Great Escape might have tweaked credibility, with Steve McQueen and his motor bike, but Hart's War doesn't belong in the same genre. There is no credibility to tweak.

Reviewed on: 22 May 2002
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Hart's War packshot
American PoW movie, with a court-martial at its centre and Bruce Willis in reserve.
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Director: Gregory Hoblit

Writer: Billy Ray, Terry George, based on the novel by John Katzenbach

Starring: Bruce Willis, Colin Farrell, Terence Dashon Howard, Cole Hauser, Marcel Iures, Linus Roache, Vicellous Reon Shannon

Year: 2002

Runtime: 125 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US

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